We're now well into the harvest season. Things are going pretty well so far, but there is of course a period of adjustment with so much new equipment this year. Each item has added a lot to the efficiency and capacity of the operation but has presented its own unique challenges.
The combine is a crawler combine, with rubber tracks (in Japanese, "ku-ro-ra" = "crawler"). As with all the other stuff, the controls are all in Japanese. In normal field conditions, I have to say it does an excellent job and is a breeze to operate. However it does have a tendency to get its pickup apparatus clogged with weeds when it enters a weedy patch, meaning I have to get off and pull the grassy material out of its jaws one handful at a time.
Also my hopes that it would be able to harvest even in mucky conditions are a bit dashed as I entered a soft field and could not work it. At least I was able to drive out of it, but we may be hard pressed to recover the rice in this field that still has not dried off after such a long spell without rain. Now more rain is expected towards the end of this week, so it may have to be hand harvested. Not looking forward to that.
One fantastic feature of the combine is the auger, that empties its hopper into a transport carrier. Normally the transport carrier would be in the bed of a truck, but we carry ours on the back of our tractor. I am still wary of filling the transport carrier to capacity because it could make the front wheels go up in the air. So, with partial loads, the grain is making its way up the hill.
Last year we built a wood-fired grain dryer. So far this year that one has not been used at all, and the new Oshima dryer has been doing all the work. It runs on a program, firing a burner, moving the rice around and blowing air over the whole batch, working through both night and day in a way that I cannot. Although I still don't understand its controls 100%, it is working out really well and getting the rice dried down to milling moisture content really quickly.
The milling part of the process we haven't quite gotten to yet. So far the huller I have been testing has clogged up a few times, but I think it may have been running backwards! There seems to be a polarity issue with the wiring that can be corrected pretty easily. It is all part of the learning process.
As for the rice, it's looking great and there is a lot of it. Advance orders will be available for general pickup two weeks from now, and if you've placed an advance order through the site you'll be hearing from me. I'm also going to reopen the preorder store for a November pickup date.
Enjoy this beautiful fall weather!